Police use powers to remove ex-ambulance campervan parked at Castle Cove beauty spot

Castle Cove Sailing Club car park

A man living in his broken-down campervan, which was parked-up on a privately owned car park, has been removed from the site and his ex-ambulance taken away.

Gary Jones had been living out of the converted ambulance while pitched-up in the car park at Sandsfoot Beach in Portland Harbour, Dorset for almost two years.

The car park is owned by the adjoining Castle Cove Sailing Club, which took fresh legal action to remove Mr Jones.

The club had previously issued him with a notice to quit in January 2021.

On Thursday, Castle Cove Sailing Club closed its car park and secured it with large concrete blocks while police attended the site, and using powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, removed Mr Jones and his ambulance.

Mr Jones said: “I have nothing anymore.

“What they’ve done is made someone who was getting well and trying to recover, and made them properly homeless, with no way of getting their home back – that’s their idea of help.

“I wasn’t given any notice. I had an hour to move from when they turned up.”

Mr Jones said his van, which he bought with his late mother’s inheritance, had been towed to a garage where he is being charged £120 plus £20 for every day that it’s there.

He would be “back on the streets” as a result.

Castle Cove Sailing Club commodore, David Brock said: “Since purchasing the site in 2002, the sailing club has made every effort to enable public access.

“A small car park has been made available for free public use during the day however, overnight parking is strictly prohibited.

“Unfortunately, a small number of people have been occupying the car park for long term camping to the detriment of the land and the local community.

“Regrettably, Castle Cove Sailing Club has been forced to take action.

“Castle Cove Sailing Club has worked closely with the local authorities to ensure that the campers are moved on through appropriate action which is considerate of the welfare of all stakeholders and in the interests of the general public.

“The car park will now be temporarily closed for the rest of the summer to allow refurbishment and the development of measures to prevent further overnight camping.”

In a statement to club members, Mr Brock thanked the police and Dorset Council for completing their task in a “calm, professional and efficient manner” with consideration for the welfare of those camping there and the general public.

“Castle Cove Sailing Club is a long-term supporter of the local community and plans to re-open the car park to the general public as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, the public are asked not to park on the private land at the end of Old Castle Road, or take vehicles onto the beach.”

A spokesman for Weymouth & Portland Police said: “Weymouth and Portland Neighbourhood Policing Team have used powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to remove a trespasser from land in the area of Sandsfoot beach.

“We would like to thank members of the public and residents for reporting their concerns to Dorset Council and Dorset Police, and for their patience whilst we addressed the matter.”

A spokesman for Dorset Council said that the council, with Dorset Police, offered advice and guidance as it does for any landowner who asks for it when they have an illegal encampment.

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